Friday 22 May 2015

News headlines - 05/21/2015

China is assumed to make some dramatic changes this October.

As the IMF is to meet and discuss its Special Drawing Rights (SDR) currency basket, the Chinese Yuan may substitute dollar as a reserve currency.

Thus, China may become not only the world's largest economy, but a super power of the 21st century.

The Chinese President Hu Jintao has already declared the dollar being a product of the past.

China along with Russia has been accumulating gold in large quantity. China though is both the world's largest gold producer and biggest importer. So, they are not only hoarding gold by the truck load, but not one ounce produced is leaving their shore.

The times of dollar being backed with gold are also in the past. Today, it is backed by absolutely nothing.

In addition to their physical gold holdings, the Chinese have been using a secret 7,000 year-old gold accumulation strategy.

In 2013, asset purchases by Hong Kong and Chinese mainland miners increased to a record $2.2 billion. The physical bullion stockpile has likely tripled since then, according to the analysts.

If adding up all the Chinese deposits, including offshore, this could be upwards of 5,000 metric tons. And that is just one year of record mine buying from China.

China may disclose those gold holdings ahead of the IMF's decision this October and prove that it is more trustworthy than the US dollar

More than 50,000 anti-austerity protesters in London marched outside the BBC and Parliament Square today but the BBC refuses to cover them.

Comedian Russell Brand addressed the crowd: "Austerity means keeping all the money among people who have loads of it. This is the biggest problem we face today--all other problems radiate from this toxic swindle. We can organise a fairer, more just society than they can. These demonstrations are the start."

Brand said the group will hold the biggest protest in British history later this year, "Soon we will reach a size and influence where neither the BBC nor this austerity Government will be able to ignore us."

Reuters / Michael Dalder

A US-led military exercise encompassing troops and vehicles from 13 nations has kicked off in Germany's Hohenfels training area, at a time when NATO forces are holding wave after wave of similar drills.

The new war games are a part of the Combined Resolve IV series of exercises, which started May 1 and are set to last until June 26. It is a biannual event in which the US army units stationed in Europe train to act together with their European allies and familiarize the newly-rotated units with the multinational environment.

China's navy warned a US surveillance plane flying over man-made islands that Beijing is building in the disputed South China Sea to leave the area multiple times, according to a TV crew aboard the flight on Wednesday.

A Chinese naval vessel issued eight warnings to a P8-A Poseidon, in an apparent effort to establish a no-fly zone near the artificial islands, CNN reported. When US pilots said they were flying through international airspace, a Chinese radio operator responded: "This is the Chinese navy … you go!"

From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

EMU creditors have Greece's Alexis Tsipras by the scruff of the neck, but he has a knife to their throats

Hysteria over imaginary Russian invasion continues in Sweden.

The Swedish court has officially seized two key domains owned by notorious illegal BitTorrent file-sharing website Pirate Bay, but just like the mythical Greek monster Hydra, the website has spawned six more domains.

The decision was made by the Stockholm District Court on 19 May and follows the continued campaign by Swedish prosecutor Frank Ingblad to bring down the Pirate Bay.

Israel has preannounced its intent to inflict heavy civilian casualties the next time it bombs southern Lebanon, already claiming that Hezbollah will be at fault because its forces are enmeshed with the population, a remarkable public admission, says Jonathan Marshall.

From Robert Parry

Special Report: The odd-couple relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel may have been sealed with more than a mutual desire to kiss-off Iran. According to an intelligence source, there was a dowry involved, too, with the Saudis reportedly giving Israel some $16 billion, writes Robert Parry.

For more than half a century, Saudi Arabia has tried to use its vast oil wealth to build a lobby in the United States that could rival the imposing Israel Lobby. At top dollar, the Saudis hired law firms and PR specialists – and exploited personal connections to powerful families like the Bushes – but the Saudis never could build the kind of grassroots political organization that has given Israel and its American backers such extraordinary clout.

There is increasing concern about potential outside influence involved in recent political demonstrations in Macedonia following reports that students were offered up to $1,500 by an activist group to come up with the best ideas on how to protest against the country's government.

Former US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Robert Joseph claims that Putin is right to follow a policy of peace through maintaining military strength, and the United States should follow his example

Once again, probably for a hundredth time we hear that Putin will betray someone. They said, he will betray Novorossia, but this has not happened, then the same tune was heard about Syria. Generally speaking, it's not news about Syria at all. These talks hasn't stopped, but each time nothing happens.

It's time to once and for all clarify whether he will or will not betray them and if the Americans will start bombing Syria. So far we have said that bombing Assad is impossible, now, we're ready to say more and reveal the cards of what we believe will happen in Syria.

In exactly a month, Ukraine will owe Russia a $75 million debt coupon payment. Finance Minister Anton Siluanov told reporters in Moscow today that "if they miss the payment, we will use our right to go to court." Then it got serious, as Vladimir Putin instructed Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to assume control of Ukraine's repayment of its $3-billion debt in Eurobonds that Russia bought in 2013, slamming Ukraine's bill allowing them to impose a moratorium on foreign debt repayments as a de facto announcement of default. As one market participant warned, "I would wait until after June 20 to go forward with" any moratorium, as "if Russia takes Ukraine to court, that might be an incentive for other creditors to go down the same route."

Experts fear the jihadists could destroy Palmyra, a 2,00o-year-old "iconoclast's heaven."

On Wednesday, militants from the so-called Islamic State captured the ancient Syrian city of Palmyra. After nearly a week of fighting, government forces reportedly fled the city, according to the British monitoring group Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Palmyra, a desert outpost of 50,000 people, sits on a strategic highway and is close to several gas fields that ISIS has repeatedly attacked. It's also a magnificent UNESCO World Heritage site known for its 2,000-year-old, Roman-era tombs, temple, colonnades, and artifacts, as well as a storied mythology.

Just hours after ISIS scored a significant victory in Iraq when it captured the town of Ramadi over the weekendthe first Iraqi town that had been actively defended by the US as opposed to just Iraqi troops, overnight ISIS also captured the ancient Syrian town of Palmyra, which the mainstream media promptly concludes was proof that the Islamic State's momentum was growing.

Around a third of the 200,000 people living in Palmyra may have fled in the past few days during fighting between government forces and Islamic State militants, the U.N. human rights office said on Thursday.

That's not all: according to Reuters, "extending its reach in the region, fighters loyal to the Sunni Muslim group have also consolidated their grip on the Libyan city of Sirte, hometown of former leader Muammar Gaddafi.
"ISIL has reportedly been carrying out door-to-door searches in the city, looking for people affiliated with the government. At least 14 civilians are reported to have been executed by ISIL in Palmyra this week," Shamdasani said in emailed comments.

The capture of Palmyra according to the known UK propaganda outlet and distributor of fabricated "chemical attack" tapes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is really just one guy, Abdul Rahman of Coventry, means that ISIS "now controls more than half of Syrian territory."

Not really, no.

If Israel tries to attack Iran, Tehran will raze Tel-Aviv to the ground, a top Iranian general said.

Intelligence agencies of the United States and Israel are responsible for causing political unrest in the Middle East, said top Iranian Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

Reuters / Stringer

Moscow and Baghdad have been expanding military cooperation, President Vladimir Putin said, and Russia is ready to supply weapons to Iraq to aid the fight against Islamic State militants’ advance in the region, said Russia’s FM Sergey Lavrov.

Manufacturing output slipped to a 13-month low, the PMI report showed, while employment remained in contraction zone.

A gauge of Chinese manufacturing remains sluggish in May, underscoring the tepid response to government efforts to cushion a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

The preliminary Purchasing Managers' Index from HSBC Holdings and Markit Economics was at 49.1, missing the median estimate of 49.3 in a Bloomberg survey. Numbers below 50 indicate contraction.

The government has escalated efforts to prevent a hard landing, adding fiscal loosening to monetary easing. In the latest moves, it relaxed financing rules for local governments in a bid to boost demand for credit, while three interest rate cuts since November aim to lower borrowing costs.

According to The China People's Daily, Indonesia has just sank a large Chinese vessel and 40 other foreign ships caught fishing in The South China Sea. AP confirms that Indonesian authorities blew up and sank the 41 vessels... which seems like something that might just lead to some serious escalation if true...

Republican Rand Paul steps down after more than 10 hours in bid to halt the federal government’s collection of its citizens’ phone records

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